Socializing Your Scottish Terrier

  • 23/11/2010

Despite their natural curiosity and explorative nature, Scottish terrier dogs do have an instinctive fear of anything that's unfamiliar to them. This means that any situation or object your dog is not accustomed to can pose a threat and create fear and stress in him. Without appropriate training these negative experiences may lead to behavioural problems later in life.

The appropriate training we are talking about here is socialization, which, to my understanding, is as important as obedience training. Socialization is the process of exposing your Scottie to a variety of situations, objects and places whereby he will learn to recognise and interact with different people, with other individuals of its own species, and with other animals such as cats and horses.

The socialization process should begin as early as possible, preferably when the Scottie is still a puppy, so he becomes socialized more quickly. It is commonly accepted that the initial learning time is between 6 and 8 weeks of age, however continual social interaction is indicated up to the age of 6-8 months. Socializing dogs older than a year may take a little longer, but it certainly can be done with successful results.

What's involved in socialization? Socializing your Scottish terrier is a quite simple process: normally he will be used to the situations that exist around your environment and lifestyle, so what you need to do is take him to as many different places and submit him to as many different situations as you can. If you live in the country or in a quiet neighbourhood, take him to different surroundings with crowds of people, traffic and noise. Or if he's accustomed to noise and traffic take him to the countryside. Introduce him to children other than yours and have him meet your friends and their pets if they own any.

Make sure that you completely control the experience when you introduce your Scottie puppy to new places, people, objects and situations and that this is done in a safe environment. Any frightening experience at this point will have a negative impact in your dog and result in undesirable behavior. On the other hand, your correct reaction to an unexpected situation will contribute positively to your dog's education. For example, don't pet or praise him if he shows fear, it may be regarded as a reward. Don't let him chase cats or squirrels as this may be the start of a life-long habit.

As with all training, it is important to reward your Scottie's good behaviour through praise or a treat. By rewarding a positive behaviour you will incentivize him to repeat this behavior until it becomes a pattern.

Socialization requires time and patience but the results are rewarding: a well-socialized Scottish terrier develops a confident, sound temperament and is prepared to be taken anywhere and exposed to almost all circumstances.

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